The gunman who opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Northern California used an AK-47-style assault rifle he had purchased legally earlier this month, police said Monday.
Santino William Legan, a 19-year-old Gilroy resident, shot and killed two children, a 6-year-old boy, and a 13-year-old girl, as well as a man in his 20s in the mass shooting on Sunday, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said. Fifteen other people were wounded.
“Anytime a life is lost it’s a tragedy, but when its young people it’s even worse,” he said.
Smithee said three officers engaged Legan and, despite being outgunned, they fatally wounded him “in less than a minute.”
Smithee said that Legan had purchased the assault rifle in Nevada on July 9. Smithee said he believes Legan was living in Nevada with family members at the time he bought the gun. However, police do not know how long he lived there, or when since he returned to Gilroy.
He added that police have not yet determined Legan’s motive, “it seems like this is a random act,” he told reporters.
Smithee said police are still following leads about a potential second suspect being involved.
Over a dozen people were injured in the Sunday afternoon shooting at the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Festival.
Police say that Legan is believed to have cut through a fence to get into the heavily guarded festival before randomly opening fire on attendees.
The band was about to start playing its encore on the last day of the annual food festival when shots rang out, witnesses told Bay Area station KTVU.
Videos shared on social media show panic erupting as attendees fled for safety. Pops and screams could be heard in the background. Police said they received reports of a shooting at 5:41 p.m. at the north side of the festival being held at the outdoor Christmas Hill Park.
Julissa Contreras, 30, of Oakland, California was at the festival on Sunday with her father and boyfriend when she saw Legan start firing into the crowd about 15 feet away from her, she tells TIME.
Contreras says she ran to a nearby tent for cover. She says the shooter was not aiming at anyone or anything in particular but was near a 15-foot tall bouncy slide filled with children.
“He was spraying left to right, right to left, like an oscillating fan,” she says. “He was very tactical in what he was doing. A lot of the kids were scrambling to get out.”
“I was in his line of fire, so I ran around to a different tent that was further away from him,” she adds. “I could hear the police returning fire. I was thinking ‘OK, when can I move? When should we move?’ My dad was trying to have us run across an open space. I told him no we can’t yet. My adrenaline was definitely pumping. I ran where and when I could.”
Todd Jones, a sound engineer, told the San Jose Mercury News that he heard what sounded like a firework near the festival’s Vineyard stage. “But then it started to increase, more rapidly, which sounded more like gunfire, and at that point people realized what was happening,” he said.
“It was quite shocking, and I’m fortunate to be alive,” Michael Paz, 72, a vendor at the festival said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “He came ready to shoot because he was wearing a protective vest,” Paz said. “He was shooting left; he was shooting right without any particular aim.”
“Everybody just ran, panicked,” festivalgoer Felton Amos, 60, told the Chronicle. “It sounded like more than one gun, like they were having a shootout.”
The San Francisco Bureau of Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tweeted that they were responding to the shooting.
Who are the victims?
One of the dead was six-year-old Stephen Romero, according to local news reports. Romero’s grandmother told ABC7 that her grandson would be remembered as a “loving boy.”
Romero’s mother and other grandmother were reportedly also injured in the shooting and were being treated in the hospital.
Police Chief Smithee said at least 15 people were injured in total.
A spokeswoman for the Stanford Medical Center said the hospital is treating two patients, while the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center said it received five victims, the Associated Press reports. There were no further details on the patients’ conditions or injuries.
Who is the suspected gunman?
The gunman has been identified as Santino William Legan, who is believed to be 19 years old, according to the Associated Press, citing a law enforcement official.
Legan cut through a fence and reportedly began firing randomly at festival attendees, killing three people and injuring at least 15, Gilroy Police Chief Scott Smithee confirmed. According to Smithee, police responded immediately, shooting and killing Legan.
Police have not yet confirmed a motive. Witnesses reported that Legan appeared to be firing at random.
“I have no idea what the motive is at this point,” Smithee told reporters on Sunday.
Some witnesses reported seeing a second suspect and a manhunt is still ongoing. Smithee said police are unsure if the second person was armed or assisting Legan.
According to the AP, Legan began shooting during an encore performance by local band TinMan. Singer Jack van Breen told the AP the gunman was wearing a green shirt and grayish handkerchief around his neck.
Van Breen said he heard someone shout to Legan “Why are you doing this?” and Legan replied, “Because I’m really angry.”
Contreras, who says she witnessed the shooting up-close, says the gunman was wearing olive green clothing with a cap and sports sunglasses.
“He looked like a regular guy,” she says. “He looked like somebody’s dad who goes to all their baseball games.”
“He was very serious and very focused on what he was doing,” she adds. “I didn’t hear him say anything or yell anything. He definitely was dressed for what he was doing. He wasn’t dressed in a regular day-to-day outfit.”
On Monday morning police were seen raiding a two-story home in Gilroy where Legan reportedly lived with his family. The AP reports that police searched the house and a dusty car parked outside the home before leaving with “paper bags and what appeared to be other evidence.”
What is the Gilroy Garlic Festival?
The Gilroy Garlic Festival is an annual food fair held in Gilroy, Calif., a city of about 50,000 people nicknamed the garlic capital of the world. The festival website describes the event as “the world’s greatest summer food fair.” It has been running since 1979.
While authorities have not confirmed how many people were in attendance on Sunday, the festival––which is recognized by Guinness World Records as the World’s Largest Garlic Festival––attracts thousands of attendees annually.
More than 4,000 volunteers worked to organize this year’s festival, according to the Gilroy Garlic Festival website.
A three-day festival held annually on the last weekend of July, this year’s events included performances from musical artist Colbie Caillat and appearances from celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio and Gerron Hurt. The festival also featured multiple events, including cooking competitions and demonstrations and vendor booths selling food, beverages and gifts.
Brian Bowe, Executive Director of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, told reporters on Sunday that the fatal shooting was an “upsetting circumstance.”
“Gilroy is an amazing, tightly-knit community,” he said. “We are family. We have had the wonderful opportunity in this community to celebrate our family through our Garlic Festival, and for over four decades that festival has been our annual family reunion. It’s such a sad, just horribly upsetting circumstance that this happened on the third and final day of this year’s festival.”
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